A fully merited success in yesterday’s semi-final clash with Douglas in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was greeted in jubilant fashion by the Blackpool hurling faithful. Their attentions will now swiftly turn to arresting the barren spell they have endured since they last garnered a senior title in 1989, when they square off against Sarsfields.
It’s been a season of wildly oscillating fortunes for Glen Rovers with crushing defeats against near neighbours Na Piarsaigh, a mid-summer championship expulsion and a series of gruelling replays all being prominent features. But they have timed their championship run brilliantly and apart from a brief second-half blip, they were in commanding form yesterday.
Glen Rovers set the tone early on as they accelerated into a 1-2 to 0-0 lead by the 5th minute. Their star attacker Patrick Horgan was the architect of that advantage, popping over a second minute free, tipping a long-range Brian Moylan free to the net two minutes later and then firing another placed ball over the bar.
Horgan entered the tie in a rich vein of form after a season of breathtaking scoring displays saw him rack up a total of 5-47. That early blast looked to signal that he was on the cusp of destroying another defensive rearguard but Douglas came to terms with his threat as Alan Barry stuck tenaciously to Horgan and they kept him scoreless from play for the remainder of the game.
There have been accusations in this campaign that Glen Rovers were unable to cope if the Horgan scoring well dried up but the rest of their attack shared the burden impressively yesterday and ultimately that was a key facet in their victory.
Corner-forward Richard Whitty was a menacing presence in the first-half profiting from fine deliveries to claim three stylish points. Conor Dorris offered a reminder of his abilities when introduced late on as he clipped over a brace of points.
Their half-forward line also played important roles with Dean Brosnan, David Cunningham and David Goggin all working ferociously hard and the physicality of their hurling enabled them to pin back the Douglas defence. The Glen Rovers defence and midfield provided the solid foundations in the first-half that were pivotal to propelling them ahead on the scoreboard. When their dynamic midfielder Denis O’Callaghan lofted over a 22nd minute point, Glen Rovers had surged ahead by 1-8 to 0-4 and Stephen McDonnell, Paul O’Brien and Graham Callanan were all producing impressive displays.
Appearing in their first ever senior semi-final and having to turn out just six days after that energy-sapping and spellbinding last eight win over CIT, meant Douglas could have done with the benefit of a solid opening. Instead they were forced into chasing the game from the off.
Glen Rovers clearly identified the offensive threats posed by Mark Harrington and Stephen Moylan who had struck a combined 1-13 in last Monday night’s quarter-final. Callanan and McDonnell managed the significant feat of restricting them to just two points from play over hour. Eoin Cadogan’s precise long-range freetaking helped keep Douglas in touch in the first-half and a fine score by Barry Fitzgerald left them 1-10 to 0-8 behind at half-time.
After a few missed opportunities James Moylan lashed over a point from close-range in the 44th minute after a pass by Harrington sent him clear. When Douglas did raise a green flag in the 47th minute, there was a touch of good fortune about the strike after Odran Mulrooney’s low shot from 20 yards squirmed underneath the body of Hickey. Despite Stephen Moylan tacking on two quick frees to shave the margin to three points, the margin proved unassailable for Douglas.
Glen Rovers always looked like being able to up the tempo when required. Horgan struck a couple of wayward frees but was on target with one in the 61st minute and before that Dorris landed two vital points. The solitary response that Douglas could muster was a close-range injury-time free by Mark Harrington that flashed over the bar.
The Glen will have plenty motivation against Sarsfields as they seek to avenge their semi-final loss of two seasons ago and claim championship spoils for the first time in 21 years.
Scorers for Glen Rovers: P Horgan 1-5 (four frees, one ‘65); R Whitty 0-3; C Dorris, D Cunningham 0-2 each; S McDonnell, P O’Brien, D O’Callaghan, A Dunlea, D Goggin 0-1 each.
Scorers for Douglas: S Moylan 0-4 (three frees); O Mulrooney 1-0; E Cadogan 0-3 (two frees, one ‘65); J Moylan, M Harrington (one free) 0-2 each; B Fitzgerald 0-1.
Glen Rovers subs: D Busteed for Dunlea (38); C Dorris for Virgo (38).
Douglas subs: D McSweeney for J Collins (37); C Dineen for Shine (43); W Coveney for Desmond (58).
Referee: John Sexton (Ballyhea).